This 20 Year Old Satire isn’t As Funny Anymore

Mr. Show with Bob and David is probably my all-time favorite sketch comedy show. After 20 years, their satirical, cutting-edge takes on what was modern society of the late 20th century not only still hold up, but are passing through satire into reality.

This morning as I was working, I randomized a playlist full of my favorite shows and let it play without paying full attention. After a while, the seventh episode of the fourth season started. The episode begins with a quick sketch making fun of what was an emerging TV show format let by Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, the ‘casual chat’ show featuring comedians, actors, and even low-level politicians ‘riffin’ on the hot stories of the day.

Today, these shows are more commonplace; indeed, Bill Maher is STILL making a career out this format, piled on top of being a failed stand-up comedian after being a bad sit-com actor. Back in 1998, there was The Daily Show on Comedy Central, but it was still hosted by Craig Kilborne and was more of a daily parody of the local news and nothing like the “hot, trendy, sophisticated,” political comedy show that it would grow into under Jon Stewart in the following few years. But in the middle of 1998, the “political round-table” format was still pretty reserved for CNN or Night Line and decidedly never funny on purpose. The writers and producers of Mr. Show were the same people behind some of the other most iconic and landmark comedy shows such as The Dana Carvey Show and The Ben Stiller Show, and one thing that comes through in all of these shows is the extreme caricatures of not just society, the press, and politics, but mostly of the entertainment industry itself.

From the Water Cooler sketch the show transitions to “breaking news.” The screen wipes over to to a news graphic and then to a serious-faced anchor with the breaking news headlines. Monsoon causing homelessness and disease, economic collapse as a sovereign nation devalues its currency, BUT THE TOP STORY the American president has allegedly farted! From there, we’re taken to a reporter with his report. I’ve literally seen this sketch hundreds of times, but suddenly it knocked me out of my chair laughing because of last week’s ‘shithole’ episode.

Click here to watch the sketch on right now.

The only thing that would have made the fart sketch indistinguishable from last week’s pearl-clutching, apoplectic press coverage of the alleged utterance of a profanity by Trump was the Mr. Show sketch was missing scenes of opposition party leaders denouncing the fart and detailing how awful it was to smell and how the fart has ripped the fabric of the US democracy as sure as it ripped the fabric of the president’s pants.

So the whole point of this post was not so much to share this funny video with everyone. The point is to say that some of the most comedic elements have now been “trumped” by today’s modern reality.

The sketch USED to be really funny, now it isn’t as funny because if Trump were to fart during a bi-partisan meeting tomorrow, who would be surprised to see Pelosi’s twisted face on TV talking about how the fart happened when her mouth was open and how that was proof Trump is a misogynist?

Who would be shocked if Durban wasn’t on CNN talking about how it wasn’t just a fart, but a full shart?

Who wouldn’t be amused by fact that even though the word “FART” is keyed on every graphic and every guest keeps saying the word, Wolf Blitzer would keep saying “flatulence” or “flatus” instead of saying the word ‘fart’?

Finally, please enjoy this little gem for what it is: A gloried, kid’s fart joke; but be satisfied with that.
I for one have to file this under so many other old TV shows that all came to “jump the shark” once the real-life press relished saying the word, “shithole” on prime time television 674 times in a row.

Thanks for reading.

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I tweet from @Dr_Revelator about bitcoin, economics, politics, comedy, entertainment, and culture… and sometimes fart jokes.

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